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Natural Dye Burmese Shoulder Bag

Item # 32516
No longer available

Clearance! Was $22.95, now $16.80!

Bring an exotic presence to your handbag collection with a bag that marries pretty patchwork style and fair-trade flair. Our Natural Dye Burmese Shoulder Bag provides economic opportunity to Burmese women, while presenting a fashion-forward purse for your excursions around the town or around the world!

Made with 100% cotton, each bag has a wide, comfortable shoulder strap and subtle patchwork style. The lined interior features a pouch for smaller items such as cell phone or lipsticks; bag secures with metal snap.

Available in Red or Blue. Bag measures 8" T x 13" W x 2.5" D (20.3 x 33 x 6.4 cm). Made of naturally dyed cotton. Handmade in and fair-trade imported from Thailand.

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Artisan: Chimmuwa Artisans Group

Artisan Chimmuwa Artisans Group

Naw Naw's story is one of triumph over adversity. A Thai Karen, she grew up in Tae Song Yang village near the Thai-Burma border. Both of her parents died when she was only twelve, but not before she learned weaving from her mother. She earned a living, first as a teacher for children in her community and then as a housekeeper in Chiang Mai, until moving to live with her aunt in Mae Sot. In that time, she learned sewing two days a week, and in attended school in the evenings. It was during a job cleaning the office for the Taipei Overseas Peace Service that her textile skills came to the attention of Sylvia, the TOPS manager. One month later -- after a training session in Chiang Rai where she learned the finer points of bag design -- she and Sylvia began what would become the Chimmuwa artisans group.

With an eye towards preserving traditional textiles while benefiting the women of the Karen community, the group took their name from the Karen word for a long, white dress worn by unmarried girls. The dress is meant to symbolize their purity, and was to embody the spirit of their endeavor. At the beginning, Naw Naw was the only artisan, making bags, purses, aprons, and kitchen items from fabrics Sylvia brought back from Thai villages along the Thai-Burma border. Through the Borderline Women's Collective, they were able to reach a broader, fair-trade market, and as sales increased, Naw Naw was able to turn those sales around into capital investments for Chimmuwa. This meant new sewing machines and the ability to train and employ more Karen women, and in turn, expand their line of products.

Naw Naw continues to expand her skill set, learning the finer points of the business as well as constantly looking for new product design ideas. She takes pride in her textile products -- especially with the international demand she has developed -- as she sees this as a way of sharing her culture with the world. In 2007, she started offering weaving courses to her customers, sharing a rich tradition of back-strap weaving. She says, "When I was weaving in our village with my mother, I never would have imagined that twenty years later I would be here teaching others our traditional handicraft and spending my days doing what I love."

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